Design of the Katana, the Japanese sword
About 1 hour from Kyoto, spend a few hours in a craftsman's forge for an authentic Japanese sword making experience. Under the instruction of the blacksmith, you will try your hand at the techniques of making this metalwork wonder.
The Japanese sword or "Katana"
Just like kimonos or cherry blossoms, the Japanese sword, called "Katana" or "Nihonto", holds an important place in the Japanese imagination. If you close your eyes and imagine Japan in the past, you will envision samurai in their hakama (wide pleated trousers) carrying a sword on their left side.
Japan is not the only country where warriors use swords. But the Japanese sword fascinates for many reasons: is it its elegant, slender shape? Is it its legendary sturdiness? Its ability to cut through anything? Perhaps the time spent making it?
We all know Japanese craftsmen's great skill and dedication to their art. It is not surprising that in their hands, a sword becomes a miracle of perfection, the perfect balance between cutting capacity and sturdiness.
Make your own little sword under the guidance of a blacksmith
We suggest you visit a craftsman's forge in Kameoka to discover the secrets of Japanese swordmaking.
Making a real sword usually takes just over a month. It is therefore not possible to make a real sword in one day, but this activity is the closest thing to making a sword. You will understand the techniques, and perform the essential steps of swordsmithing.
What you will make is a small blade of about 15 cm, with no guard, which in Japanese is called "Tôsu", or "Ko-gatan" (literally "small sword"). "Tôsu" (pronounced "Tohssu") means "child of the sword" and has always been present, in pockets or purses, as an all-purpose blade.You will make the Tôsu with "Tamahagan", the same steel used to make the great swords.
Your host, a blacksmith specialised in swordmaking, will teach you all the steps, from setting the fire, to polishing, to tempering and engraving.
An interpreter will be present to convey the blacksmith's words to you throughout your experience.
You should be over 10 years old to participate in the activity, but if your group includes children under 10 years old, please contact us.
To get there from Kyoto, take the Sagano Line to Kameoka Station (about 30 minutes). Then, take a taxi to the forge, which takes about 20 minutes (taxi fare: 4,000-5,000 yen). Have the map with you and ask for the "Masahiro Tantôjo" forge.
The fee is based on the number of swords, not the number of people, as there may be several people involved in the making of one sword. For each sword, there can be up to 3 people participating: 2 who make, and 1 who watches. If everybody wishes to make their own blade, we recommend choosing the same number of swords as there are people. If you mainly want to try your hand at forging, we recommend choosing 1 sword for 2 people.
If there are more than 3 people per sword, there is an extra charge of about 23 euros per person.
The activity will last between 3 and 4 hours 30, depending on the number of people
We also offer an activity dedicated to viewing the forging of Japanese swords alone.
1. Please bring your own drinks. There are no stores or vending machines once you arrive.
2. In the winter it can be cold, we recommend wearing several layers of clothing so that you can adjust for the temperature.
3. Avoid wearing nylon. Sparks can fly through the air and damage your clothing.
4. Because the forge floor is dirt, we recommend wearing clothes that can get dirty.
*Please note that the exercise will only be conducted in English or French. Please let us know your preferred language.